Thursday, September 20, 2012
What to Watch in the Big East: Week 4
By Matt Fortuna
Here's what to keep an eye on this Saturday. (Yes, every Big East game will take place Saturday, for a change.)
1. Paging UConn's offense: Yes, we say this every week. But until the Huskies show some semblance of a consistent offensive attack, we are going to be repeating ourselves. Their three-point win at Maryland put them at 2-1, but the Huskies managed just 223 total yards and only 70 through the air, getting a big boost from special teams and, as always, their defense.
2. Does Temple finally beat Penn State? This would be the year to do it, with the Nittany Lions losing 13 players -- who transferred before the season because of NCAA sanctions -- and getting off to just a 1-2 start. The Owls, who haven't beaten Penn State since 1941, will need to establish their ground game early against a strong front seven.
Paul Chryst and Pittsburgh hope to build on their upset of Virginia Tech.
3. Pitt continuing upward trend: It will be tough to tell, considering the Panthers are hosting FCS team Gardner-Webb. Then again, they lost their opener to FCS Youngstown State by two touchdowns, so they must show that their rout of Virginia Tech was no fluke, and could be something to build on the rest of the season.
4. USF bouncing back: A trip to Ball State is hardly daunting, but the Bulls' conference-opening loss to Rutgers last week brought back all sorts of bad memories from a year ago, and they can't afford to let mistakes turn into habits and one loss turn into two.
5. Rutgers goes for knockout blow: Remember when we thought this was the Big East's chance at a national statement against a title contender? Now a loss to the Razorbacks might qualify for humiliation, though they remain a talented -- and especially now -- desperate bunch who will look to take out their frustration on a Scarlet Knights team riding high after a win at USF.
6. Teddy Bridgewater takes show on the road: The Louisville sophomore has played as well as any quarterback in the nation through three weeks, but all of his games have come at home. This one, at FIU, might not seem all that hostile for the Miami native, who will have a homecoming of sorts with the No. 20 Cardinals.
7. Alec Lemon making history: The Syracuse receiver recorded just two receptions last week in a win against Stony Brook, and is four catches away from breaking the school career record of 139. Minnesota (3-0) will provide a stiff test for the 1-2 Orange, though the Gophers are expected to start Max Shortell at quarterback in place of MarQueis Gray (ankle).